arroba [Spanish]

From the Arabic rub'a. Symbol, @. Jorge Romance has written on the first appearance of the symbol (, illustrated with photographs of it in medieval manuscripts. He observes that in the earliest occurrences the “a” appears to be a “1”.


In Spain, at least as early as the 15ᵗʰ century – 20ᵗʰ century, units of liquid capacity. In the 20ᵗʰ century¹, the arroba menor, for cooking oil, approximately 12.563 liters (about 3.32 U.S. gallons). The arroba mayor, for wine, after the standard of Toledo, about 16.137 liters (about 4.263 U.S. gallons). As can be seen from the table below, not all Spanish provinces used the arroba of capacity; most of those that did not used the cántara. With the passage of time the two terms became synonymous, particularly in the Americas.

Values of the arroba of capacity in Spain
reported in the 19ᵗʰ century
Locale Nomenclature Value in liters Source
Albacete media arroba 6.365 2
Almeria media arroba 8.18 2
Badajoz media arroba for oil 6.21 2
media arroba for other liquids 8.21 2
Cádiz media arroba, for wine 7.922 2
Canarias media arroba* of Santa Cruz de Tenerife 5.08 2
media arroba* of the city of Las Palmas 5.34 2
arroba = 4¼ English wine gallons 16.09 3
Castellón arroba for oil 12.14 2
Ciudad-Real media arroba for liquids other than oil 8 2
media arroba for oil 6.22 2
Córdoba arroba 16.31 2
Coruña arroba for oil 12.43 2
Cuenca media arroba 7.88 2
Granada media arroba 8.21 2
Guadalajara media arroba 8.21 2
media arroba for oil 6.35 2
Huelva media arroba 7.89 2
Jáen media arroba for wine 8.02 2
media arroba for oil 7.12 2
Madrid media arroba 8.15 2
Málaga media arroba 8.33 2
arroba of wine = 8 azumbres = 32 quartillos 15.85 3
Murcia media arroba for wine 7.80 2
Palencia media arroba for oil 6.12 2
Segovia media arroba 8 2
Sevilla arroba 15.66 2
Toledo media arroba for oil 6.25 2
Valencia arroba 11.93²; 11.483 2,3
Vizcaya media arroba 6.74 2
Zaragoza arroba for oil 13.93 2
arroba for alcoholic beverages 13.33 2

*The source says only “arroba,” but the value given is much smaller than values reported for the Canaries by other sources. We think there was a transcription error at the Instituto, and have amended “arroba” to “media arroba.”

1. United Nations, 1966.

2. Dirección General del Instituto Geográfico y Estadístico.
Equivalencias entre las Pesas y Medidas Usadas Antiguamente en las Diversas Provincias de España y las Legales del Sistema Métrico-Decimal.
Publicadas de Real Orden.
Madrid: Imprenta de la Dirección General del Instituto Geográfica y Estadístico, 1886.

3. Doursther (1840), page 29. In many of these he follows Altés.

The Spanish unit led to various units of capacity in the Spanish-speaking world, ? – 21st centuries:

Bolivia See arroba in Bolivia.
Chile opens map showing location of Chile 40 liters in central Chile, 35.5 liters in the north. (Technical Factors..., 1972, page 132.)

Doursther (1840) says that at Valparaiso it was taken as 8¼ imperial gallons, or 37.48 liters.

Colombia 12.56 liters (3.32 U.S. gallons). Synonymous with cantara.
Cuba The arroba of wine, about 16.14 liters (about 4.263 U.S. gallons).
Honduras A unit of dry capacity, 16.6 liters.
Panama 12.56 liters (about 3.32 U.S. gallons). Synonymous with cantara.
Peru A unit of liquid capacity used for wine, 16.1 liters.
Venezuela The arroba of wine, about 16.14 liters (about 4.263 U.S. gallons).


Roue 3 e un nono d'olio di misure di Sybilia fa in Firenze orcio uno.

Three and 1/9th arroba of oil by the measure of Seville makes one Florentine orcio.

Chiarini, 1481.


Various units of mass in the Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking worlds, at least as early as the 15ᵗʰ – 21st centuries. Originally it = ¼ cantaro.

Argentina = 25 libras, about 11.512 kg (about 25.383 pounds av.) Argentina 25.3171
Belize opens map showing location of Belize and the Dominican Republic

United Nations, 1966.

= 25 pounds avoirdupois (approximately 11.34 kilograms).


Brazil opens map showing location of Brazil

Technical Factors..., 1972, page 105.

mid-20ᵗʰ century, = 15 kilograms,
for kapok, alfalfa, cotton (with seeds), pork

for live cattle, = 30 kilograms
Chile, El Salvador, Guatemala,
Honduras, Nicaragua, Peru,
Philippines, Spain (but see local values below) and Venezuela opens map showing location of Venezuela

United Nations, 1966.

Technical Factors..., 1972, page 132.

= 25 libras (taken as = 11.5 kilograms, approximately 25.35 pounds av.)

Technical Factors..., 1972, page 134.

= 25 libras = 12.5 kilograms (approximately 27.57 pounds av.) Used for grain.
Costa Rica

Technical Factors..., 1972, page 137.

= 25 libras = 11.50 kilograms

Technical Factors..., 1972, page 140.

= 25 libras = 11.50 kilograms

Technical Factors..., 1972, page 150.

= 25 libras = 2 botija = 11.5 kilograms. opens a new page containing a chart that shows relationships between this unit and other units in its system
El Salvador

Technical Factors..., 1972, page 155.

= 25 libras = 11.5 kilograms.

19th century (Robelo, 1908)

20ᵗʰ century (United Nations, 1966

about 11.506 158 5 kilograms
Paraguay 11.475 kilograms (approximately 25.298 pounds av.)
Portugal, Goa = 32 arrateis, about 14.688 kg, about 32.385 pounds av.
Puerto Rico 25 pounds avoirdupois (about 11.34 kg)  Symbol, @.  Currently used by cattle ranchers in describing the weight of their animals.
Spain, Aragon 15ᵗʰ century, about 12.63 kg chart symbol
Spain, Castile

Technical Factors..., 1972, page 140.

= 25 libras, 11.5023 kilograms. Now = 11.5 kilograms
Spain, Catalonia = 26 libras, about 10.400 kilograms.
Spain, Valencia The ordinary arroba = 36 libras, about 12.816 kg.
The arroba sutil or arroba delgada, = 30 libra, about 10.680 kg.
An arroba of flour, about 11.302 kg.
Uruguay 10 kilograms (approximately 22.05 pounds av.)
Venezuela 25.4024 pounds

A map showing the location of Brazil.

Where is Brazil?


La roua della lana di Valenza che libbre xxxvj fanno in Firenze libbre xxxvij e mezo intendi che ogni cantare chosì grosso chome soctile è roue iiij e ogni roua chosì grossa chome soctile è libbre xxiiij, la libbra è once xv, e la lib. grosse xviij once sì che la roua soctile è libbre trenta d'once dodici per libbra e la grossa è libbra trentasei d'once dodici per libbra.

The arroba of wool in Valencia of 36 libra makes in Florence 37½ libbre; note that each cantaro whether grosso or sottile is 4 arroba and each arroba whether grosso or sottile is 24 libra, the libra is 15 oncia, and the heavy libra 18 oncia, therefore the arroba sottile is 30 of the 12-oncia libra, and the arroba grosso is 36 of the 12-oncia libra.

Chiarini, 1481, as quoted in Edler, page 252. Compare Borlandi pages 40-41.

The 36-libra arroba was used for wool and the 30-libra arroba for grain. See Borlandi, page 40.


A map showing the location of Belize.

Where is Belize?


A map showing the location of Venezuela.

Where is Venezuela?

Where is Chile?

A map showing the location of Chile.